Q1. In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would you manager describe you?
Q2. Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford.
I am British and have lived all over the country through postings in the military (8 houses in 10 years at last count) – as well as a two-year stint in Germany. After graduating with a degree in Politics from Durham, I joined the British Army, completing Officer Training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and becoming an Infantry Officer. I’ve since run the usual gamut of leadership, strategy, and implementation roles, including 5 operational tours and countless other training and engagement deployments overseas; I also managed to shoehorn in an MA in War Studies from King’s College, London in the margins.
For a number of reasons I decided that it was time to find fresh challenges, and wanted to transfer my wide military experience into skills and language that are useful in the private sector. Having looked around the various MBA programmes available in the UK I settled on Oxford for its combination of youthful vigour and historical foundations.
Q3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?
My preparation for the MBA has been similar to the preparation that anyone leaving the Forces should do; leverage the very wide and ferociously helpful ex-military network to get a full understanding of what it is exactly that “people do in the real world” whilst deepening my thus-far limited knowledge of and exposure to the private sector. The latter has been achieved through attending some of the transition courses that are provided by the military as one leaves, doing some additional online learning, and, most importantly, broadening my reading / podcast consumption; FT and The Economist are my daily and weekly sources of choice. All this has helped me narrow down the areas that I will focus on during the MBA in order to achieve the post-MBA end-state. As always, start with “Why?”.
Q4. What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?
• Translating the strengths that I have developed in the Army into commercially-appreciable assets.
• A “hard” skill-set that aligns with the lexicon, tools, and values of the private sector.
• Exposure to a broad network of cultures, backgrounds, and industries to help me understand the options available outside of the Army.
• Finally, a broader outlook than that which I have right now. I have done a quick sketch (inspired by but in no way comparable to those by Tim Urban) to help articulate the change in worldview which I am already experiencing simply by beginning to connect with my future classmates.
Q5. What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?
Take all your leave and enjoy your summer!
Q6. What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?
Learning about finance.
Q7. What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?
Learning about finance.
Q8. How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?
Synthesis. Change is no easy task in any organisation or endeavour, but I expect that the grounding in leadership, decision-making, and execution that I have gained in the military thus far, overlaid with business knowledge and relationships developed during the time at Oxford will stand me in good stead to ensure successful positive change wherever I go post-MBA.
Q9. Are there any sport teams, societies, or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?
I’ve always played a lot of sport, but 30+ years of rugby, 10+ years of judo, and 16+ years of being in the Infantry mean that most mornings are painful and the idea of doing competitive sport sends shivers down my spine… Having said that I’ve done a lot of rugby coaching and I hope to find time to continue to give back to the sport in some capacity after all the joy that it’s brought me. I’ll also keep my hand in with the military, helping out at Oxford OTC and trying to get along to the world-famous Oxford Changing Character of War events.
Q10. Lastly, what’s your favourite hashtag?